Skip to main content
Go home -o But whoever henceforth Ere on the site of thy house will be, hoirless.'
Sen To the present day, the site of that Khankav'a house remams unoccupied.
As already stated, the dialect spoken in Sylhet Town and in the North and Forth-
East of the District is that winch Europeans call Sylhettia. Natives do not use this title.
TlevcallitJaintiapuri^urbaSrihattiy^orTJjania. The latter means the language
of the upper country. It is estimated that, of the 2,033,000 speakers of Bengali in
Svlbet 678 000 use this dialect. The most noteworthy peculiarity is the formation of
the -iitiv'e singular, whioa ends in &r, not in er. We shall notice the same peculiarity
in Caahar. The formation of the Periphrastic Present, with the syllable ra, which also
u found in Cachar, should be noted.
m»Qownm«*lta^o»ft.fftoor!r«rf»rf^ of 8g1h# ^strict, by f?) T. Walton, D.0.8,
Calcutta, 1837, contains a Vocabulary of words peculiar to the Sylhet District.
The following notes on Sylhettia (iramraar are hased on a very full account of the
bnguage which has been kindly placed at my disposal by Mr. P. H. O'Brien, LC.8.
With it I have combined information for which I am indebted to the kindness of
Mr. A. Porteous, I.C.S., Mr. W. H. Lee, I.C.S., and Babu Padma Nath Bhattacharyya,
Yidyavinod. As the compilation has been done by me, I must accept the entire respon-
sibility for any errors which may be detected.
The language spoken by the inhabitants of Eastern Sylhet is not intelligible to Ae
natives of Central or Northern Bengal. It is, nevertheless, Bengali. There are some
peculiarities of pronunciation which tend to render it unintelligible to strangers. The
inflections also differ from those of regular Bengali, and in one or two instances
assimilate to those of Assamese.
Written character*—Among the low class Mtfhammadans of the east of the
district the use of the Deva-nagarl alphabet occurs. It is extremely common for
Muhammadans to sign their names in this character, and the only explanation they
offer for its use is that it is so much easier to learn than Bengali, Ptdhis in Bengali are
printed in this character, but except for this purpose and for the writing of signatures by
otherwise illiterate men, the script is hardly used,—never, at least, in formal documents.
Pronunciation,—The vowel a is sometimes pronounced as in * ball,* and is then
transliterated &. This is most noticeable when the vowel is followed by a liquid, as in
mdnnshdr, of a man; n&l>& rod; man, a maund ;0rfear,a house. J$ is always pronounced
correctly and never as the a in hat. As regards consonants, the first point that strikes
one is the guttural pronunciation of ^ A, like the German ch.1 Then E oh is pronounced
like English t, and there is no difference between $ ch and ^ chh. Thirdly *T p is
frequently pronounced like ^ ph (not /but perhaps pf). Mr. Porteous does not think
that any ordinary Sylhettift could attain to the true sound of ph. The change is not
universal Thus p&p9 sin, does not become phdph. In fact, very little distinction is
heard between any of the aspirated letters and their unaspirated originals, thus ^r
ffhar is almost ponounced gar, and <3t?t thdrl very inuch like lari. Sometimes # has
the sound of w, as suparl, pronounced suwari.
* The sibilant is often, but not invariably, changed to A. Thus haph for sap, a
snake; hakal for sakal, all. In words borrowed from Hindustani (which are common),
the *-sound is usually preserved. Thus sarfar (not harkar) Government; saza, punish-
ment; salcht, hard; tamhne, before; tamjhite, to understand. The letter h is often dropped,
thus 'aft farJiatt an elephant; Xa'Udm for JcahUdm, I said; so, even, 'at gao9 seven
Thk aim ocenw in Sotith-EwUrn Bentrali.